East Bengal set to miss ISL Season 7

Big prize
ISL trophy. File photo

Kolkata: City football heavyweights East Bengal are set to miss being a part of the seventh edition of the Indian Super League (ISL). The development has become quite evident after Football Sports Development Limited's (FSDL's) meeting with ISL clubs where the organisers presented the plan for the season featuring the existing 10 teams.

FSDL's presentation to the clubs made it quite clear that the upcoming ISL season will be played with the 10 teams as last year and there is no scope of an extension of teams as far as 2020-21 season is concerned. The FSDL is looking at starting the season -- a curtailed four-month competition due to the COVID-19 scenario -- from the third week of November.

East Bengal, who got back their sporting rights in football-related affairs last week from their former investors Quess Corp after a lot of dilly-dallying from the latter, have been making a lot of noise about taking part in the ISL, the country's top tier league, this season.

But according to well placed sources in the know, the red and gold club arrived too late to the party and even if they rope in a sponsor/investor in the next one week, it will take them at least six to eight months to get the legalities sorted and get the ball rolling.

"Easy Bengal not playing ISL this season shouldn't be news anymore. The writing was on the wall quite some time now for those who understand the football administration and business of sports. For East Bengal to get an investor now and to be able to close the deal with all government regulations and legal works, it would still be early next year for the readiness," the source said.

A recent example of such a business proposition is the ATK Mohun Bagan deal, which took a year to close.

Secondly, what's going against East Bengal is their management's ineptness in handling delicate relationships with partners.

"They have a negative perception in the market and that's not good for them," the source told IANS.

ATK had announced the merger with East Bengal's arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in January this year and earlier this month, the newly merged entity, ATK-Mohun Bagan, had their first board meeting in which they decided to retain the green and maroon jersey which has been synonymous with the legacy of iconic Mohun Bagan football club.

Mohun Bagan's logo was also retained with addition of 'ATK' to the boat.

East Bengal officials, meanwhile, have been brazen about their involvement in the ISL this season and also finding a sponsor, but it has been learnt that nothing has materialised since they got the sporting rights back from Quess.

East Bengal officials had even met Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee last week at Nabanna to discuss about the club's new investors.

The club has also been handed a lifeline by All India Football Federation as the governing body of football in the country decided to extend the I-League outfit's deadline on the Club Licensing process till July 31.

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